Throughout history, women’s opportunities have been determined by their wealth, position in society, and their family’s status. However, a woman’s future was not only affected by the situation she was born into, but by the choices she made, including whether she chose to marry. Women’s circumstances have been analyzed in classic as well as modern literature, including Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While women are expected to get married and start a family rather than devote time to a high-powered career, many women do not desire motherhood and would rather further a career than spend the majority of their time working on their marriage.
In Pride and Prejudice, marriage is a central focus of the novel because of the massive role it…show more content… Collins, an odd, slightly unpleasant man, is entirely based on the comfortable home he will provide her. By characterizing Charlotte as a rational, level-headed person, Austen “endorses, with qualifications, an economically pragmatic view” of marriage (Frost 265). Additionally, Elizabeth Bennet is considered foolish by those around her because she refuses both Mr. Collins’s and Mr. Darcy’s proposals of marriage. By turning both men down, Elizabeth “stuns the offerers, not because Collins and Darcy believe Elizabeth loves them, but because they calculate their proposals to be economically unrefusable” (Frost 263). Through the characterization of Charlotte and Elizabeth as rational and foolish respectively, Austen suggests the absolute necessity of marriage, no matter the feelings of the couple for one another.
In the 1800s, marriage lacked the romantic connotation it carries so strongly today; most marriages were the result of prior planning or a rational consideration of the advantages of the bride’s dowry and the groom’s fortune. While marriage is a primary concern for young, single women in Pride and Prejudice, the society around them also has a keen interest in the marrying off of daughters to respectable men. Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth’s mother, for example, spends the entirety of the novel either fretting about her daughters’s chances at marriage or smugly recounting their husbands and incomes to anyone she meets. Despite Mrs. Bennet’s often frantic